Dress in Blue Day began with Anita Mitchell. Ms. Mitchell, who was battling stage IV colon cancer and lost a close friend and father to the disease, saw a need to bring greater awareness to a cancer not many people wanted to discuss.
In 2006, Mitchell worked with her children's school to coordinate a recognition day. On that day in March, students who normally wore uniforms to class were allowed to wear a blue outfit of their choice if they made a $1 donation to colon cancer awareness. To encourage participation and educate students’ families, Mitchell distributed educational materials and screening guidelines in the days leading up to the event.
To reach even more people in her community, Mitchell contacted the media. Local news outlets showcased the event and photographed the children in blue. Mitchell also worked with her local government, receiving a proclamation from the Mayor of Seattle recognizing it as Wear Blue for Colon Cancer Awareness Day. The following year Mitchell dedicated Dress in Blue in memory of her friend Carmen Mitchell who passed away from the disease.
In 2009, Mitchell founder of Colon Cancer STARS and volunteer for the Colon Cancer Alliance brought the Dress in Blue concept to the Colon Cancer Alliance. The organization declared the first Friday in March Dress in Blue Day and took the program nationwide, raising awareness of colon cancer, highlighting the spirit and courage of survivors and their families, and honoring the memory of those lost to the disease.